"The President has had enough."
Since ABS-CBN’s “Ang Probinsyano,” more than three years in the running as a hit telenovela, is front-page news these days, I might as well use an expression attributed to the late FPJ —“kapag puno na ang salop” as title to this article.
The phrase continues: “…kinakalos.”
Millennials need the generational knowledge of their elders to understand first the meaning of the word “salop,” which used to measure the capacity or volume of grains, particularly rice, when sold in markets. It is the deep Tagalog term for ganta, the weight equivalent of which is roughly two kilos.
Our Tagalog (Pilipino) teacher told us that the term “ganta” is of Indian (Hindu) origin, while “salop” is Malay. I never bothered to research on the etymology, because I was in grade school when the government decreed that we shift to the metric system, which meant kilograms to measure rice.
In any case, just for the benefit of the millennials, a “salop” or “ganta” of rice used to sell for 80 centavos when I was wearing short pants to go to school. Then candidate Diosdado Macapagal excoriated the administration of President Carlos P. Garcia when the price of rice rose to P1 a ganta owing to bad weather in Central Luzon.
That was the equivalent of 40 centavos going up to 50 centavos per kilo. It’s now P50 per kilo. That’s a hundred times higher. Today’s lesson in the history of inflation in the benighted land.
But back to FPJ: “Kapag puno na ang salop, kinakalos.” The other term, “kinakalos” is a descriptive best remembered as a ruler-looking piece of wood which the rice merchant used to level off the top of the “salop,” to ensure that the buyer got exactly the volume of rice in one salop.
Thus literally, when the container is full, the excess is shaved off. But “kapag puno na ang salop” is also an idiomatic expression for anger, as in “punong-puno na,” or the subject is really mad, truly angry. And “kinakalos” is similar to “throwing the baggage out,” or getting rid of the vermin, as the English used to say.
FPJ was fond of this Tagalog expression, because his movie persona was always that of the downtrodden, the “inaapi,” who fought back against his (and society’s) tormentors when they had become too abusive, and he could no longer bear their oppression. Thus, “kinakalos” becomes violent, ending in “bang-bang” or “pak-pak” as the movie hero piles his righteous indignation and wrath against the movie villains.
Now juxtapose all that to PRRD and his love-hate relationship with the “left”, a.k.a. the NPA, the NDF, Jose Ma. Sison and the “communists.”
During the presidential campaign of 2015-16, candidate Duterte used to tell audiences that Jose Ma. Sison, the exiled communist leader was his professor at the Lyceum, and that as soon as he is elected, he would ask Professor Sison to come back to the Philippines and talk peace with him.
So he did fulfill his campaign pledge to parley with the Left, and did what was then unthinkable to many, especially in the military, which was to give Cabinet portfolios to them. Paeng Mariano to agrarian reform, Judy Taguiwalo to social welfare, Liza Maza as head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, a cabinet rank position, Terry Ridon as head of the Presidential Urban Poor Commission (although Terry strikes me as a re-constructed bourgeois more than a leftist), Joel Maglungsod as undersecretary in labor. He gave the Cabinet members leeway to have their choice of undersecretaries and assistants. Not being a micro-manager, the President left his appointees to run the affairs of their departments as they saw fit.
He was fulfilling a campaign pledge, the purpose being to unite the nation and end decades of fratricidal strife. The leftist insurgency has been Asia’s longest-running rebellion. The separatist movement in the South has taken a huge toll in lives, property and resources. Together they have sapped the national energy better devoted to the pursuit of progress and the reduction of poverty.
He appointed trusted lieutenants in the person of Secretary Bebot Bello and Jess Dureza to talk peace with the left and the Moro secessionists. They sallied back and forth to Europe to engage Joma, Jalandoni, Agcaoili and other confreres. Leftist detainees were freed and given conditional amnesty to show sincerity and build confidence in the peace talks.
But the NPA forces in different areas of the country continued their revolutionary taxes, their coercive ways, and their war against military and police forces. And each time Duterte visited the grieving widows and children of his soldiers he felt the pain of losing the valiant in an endless war of attrition.
As patience wore thin, he let off the appointees from the cabal of Sison and the left one by one, either directly or through non-confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. Sison and his mouthpieces ratcheted up the attack on Duterte, their former “friend” and lumped him as another US “puppet,” the same way they did to other presidents. Later they also labeled him as a Xi puppet, since what they looked upon during the days of Mao as their big brother has turned cold on their un-reconstructed Maoist ideology and abandoned their outmoded economic models since Imelda Marcos wooed the late Chinese leader from supporting Sison and his armed cadres. China from Deng and after has since refashioned itself into a two-system political economy where economics is a capitalist mode while politics remains a single-party authority.
Joma and his band still cling to their Marxist-Leninist beliefs which even Cuba has since abandoned. Kim in Pyongyang has a completely different jiuche totalitarianism, and perhaps only Maduro in Venezuela is moving his once-prosperous country backwards. He might as well invite Joma to join him in Caracas.
In the case of our president, it is clear, with the latest sacking of the DSWD undersecretaries whom Taguiwalo brought with her to the DSWD, on top of the gravest insult to the left, which is to install a retired military general to man the social welfare department and manage its humongous feeding trough of four-Ps, that he has had enough of the “moro-moro” of trying to reconcile with Joma and his band.
In the words of FPJ, “napuno na ang salop.” Time to “kalos.”